Coen Brothers Are Next Writing New Film Focusing on an Opera Singer

September 3, 2013
Source: Film Society Lincoln Center

Coen Brothers

The folk music film Inside Llewyn Davis from directing duo Joel and Ethan Coen is coming later this year (read Alex's positive review from Cannes) with Oscar Isaac, Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan and more, but the brothers are already thinking about their next film. Without giving away any details, Joel said, "You always hesitate to mention these things when you are in the middle of them, because sometimes they just go in a drawer and never surface again and then people ask 'what ever happened to that thing' for the next 20 years. We are writing something right now where the main character is an opera singer." Read on!

The Film Society Lincoln Center wrote about the revelation after a conversation hosted there, and pointed out that the news "caused some awkward rumbling from the audience and then an extended pause." Coen, sensing the audiences hesitation or maybe lack of interesting pointed out, "Ann Richards, the former governor of Texas, once asked me what we were doing next and I said, 'We're making a movie about a barber who wants to be a dry cleaner,'" Joel Coen recalled, "and she looked at me for a long beat and said, 'I'm trying real hard to get excited about that.'" That film turned out to be The Man Who Wasn't There. So while the film might sound bland, this is the Coen Brothers we're talking about.

The Playlist has a theory about how this story might have been conceived. They point out that since Inside Llewyn Davis was inspired by folk singer Dave Van Ronk for its main character, maybe the Yiddish song Dem Milners Trern featured in their 2009 film A Serious Man and sung by opera singer Sidor Belarsky somehow resulted in some sort of inspiration for a new story. There's no telling just what the Coens' will come up with, but you can bet that we'll be buying tickets whenever it hits theaters. In the meantime, Inside Llewyn Davis hits theaters in December.

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Reader Feedback - 11 Comments


These little bitches are getting lazy.

Jesse Bangerter on Sep 3, 2013


"while the film might sound bland" Bland? About an opera singer? You must be joking. Dip into "Molto Agitato" by Johanna Fiedler if you think opera and opera singers are dull topics.

vespaferox on Sep 4, 2013


Yes , i know , i know ... they had great idea (probably) But i think my heart say , i always love see this two guys in something UNIQUE , SERIOUS about matters that shake my universe or get pressure on my ideas. We have very big problems or things in this wide & strange world. I'm sure they know their value. Life is short and cinema needs them. Opera??? Anyway , I'm OUT.

Ehsan Davodi on Sep 4, 2013


The Third Man was a musical? You guys are awesome

S freud on Sep 4, 2013


And considering "Once" was not a musical either makes the following scentence "Joel touched on the possible attempt at one of their own" meaningless reportage.

S freud on Sep 4, 2013


Actually it is, albeit one from 2007, even though apparently critically acclaimed (97% on RT). I haven't seen it either (not big on musicals myself), but it's the only feature film called Once and is a musical, so that must be it. While I don't know how The Third Man could be called a musical, it is noted for its amazing film score.

Terry Craig on Sep 4, 2013


It is a film about musicians and they sing songs but that's not what constitutes the genre. If so then "Only God Forgives" would also be a musical. For that matter so would "Inside Llewen Davis". Musicals break the fourth wall. Questions about music motivations, locating the audience and reality become problematic. It can be broad such as Mulon Rouge or it can be very subtle as in The Master, but if you just have a band playing in the scene or someone singing on a stage in the scene that's not different than havin a guy working on his car in a scene. Musicals require layers of suspension of disbelief, they push the imagination toward another reality. Watching a guy on the street corner play a guitar and sing as in "Once" doesn't do anything special, watch a man in a coma begin to sing as in Magnolia, is weird, but that's a musical number.

S freud on Sep 10, 2013


Your personal definition of the term "musical" is interesting, but it seems faulty in several places. I agree that there is a scene in "The Master," or one in "Magnolia," that can be classified as a musical number, but just because a movie has one doesn't make the movie a musical. By that logic every movie with some scary parts would also be a horror, or every movie with a couple of funny moments automatically a comedy. While I see how the line blurs with a movie about musicians, "Once" includes many scenes of music performance that are actually used to develop character depth and even continue the story, and "Only God Forgives" merely has a scene of secondary importance including music performance, so your comparison is unfair and a bit ridiculous. Having said that, of course I can't say if the author of this article hasn't made a sloppy error in writing about the chance of a Coen musical, considering his mention of The Third Man.

Terry Craig on Sep 10, 2013


You've misunderstood. Let's just focus on the core of what a musical is. My definition is not personal, I'm being descrete but not obscure. Take this from wiki: Musical films characteristically contain elements reminiscent of theater; performers often treat their song and dance numbers as if there is a live audience watching. In a sense, the viewer becomes the diegetic audience, as the performer looks directly into the camera and performs to it. My question would be: do the musical numbers in "Once" perform to the film viewer ALONE, does the musical number forsake realism of their world (the movie's reality) and address and perform directly to the camera? Are there production numbers wherein the musical performance or dance moves carry one away from the realism of the movie world and we see clearly that the scene becomes choreographed and framed for the audience's theatrical experience? This is what it would mean to "break the fourth wall". This radicalization of reality is what makes musicals interesting, even enduring. Maybe even metaphysical! In my definition it is the essence of what a "Musical" is. Just having musicians singing in a move is not enough to constitute a genre. But when you have a man in a coma singing in chorus with others via film cross-cutting, (Magnolia) that rather fantastic element inflects "A Musical". I never called Magnolia a musical, all Im saying is that the film employs and innovates by using that device. PTA does it again in The Master. The nudity appears suddenly in the scene and is certainly not intended to be the reality of the room. Speaking of PTA, the way he uses songs from "Popeye" may not radicalize the realism of "Punch Drunk Love" but it speaks again of his love of Musicals (as well as his love of Robert Altman). Just had to point that out. Lastly, I disagree that Refn's use of the staged singing in "Only God Forgives" is of secondary importance. I guess its vague argument but I think you under appreciate what he is doing. As I said before those scenes do not make the film a musical, tehy are embedded in the reality of the movie (...or are they?) whatever the case, those scenes are primary in another important way : they reference a motif, in tone and style of David Lynch. If you are familiar with Lynch you should know there's is more than Karaoke going on in those scenes. BTW If you would like to give a serious consideration to developing a taste for Musicals Id say rent the BRitish productions of Dennis Potters 'Singing Detective" or his "Lipstick on Your Collar" or his "Pennies From Heaven". (Make sure you are getting the original British TV productions not any of the lame Hollywood attempts to "adapt" them)

S freud on Sep 11, 2013


"Secondary importance" might have been the wrong way for me to put it. I am well familiar with David Lynch, and what I meant was that those performances (incl. Only God Forgives) are more about elaborating on the thematic elements or motif, like you say, of a movie, rather than advancing the plot (or characters, per sé) like, say, in Moulin Rouge. If you're going to cite Wikipedia, you could also look up "Once" and see it classified as a musical. I know it's not a traditional musical where breaking the fourth wall is so obvious, but I think that there lies ambiguity in the answer to that question in this movie (the actors' expressions and act of singing songs could theoretically be called a choreographed performance for the viewer, and not just an audience in the film itself). I guess you could compare it to the over-the-top acting in silent movies and the realistic acting in most of today's films, it's still the same thing, just in a different way. But really, I think I'm playing advocate for somebody else here, since "Once" has been named a musical by a certain amount of other people, but I already admitted not knowing much about musicals. I really love cinema in general, though, so I may give the genre a chance sometime, so thank you for the suggestions, I will take a note of them.

Terry Craig on Sep 12, 2013


If you google the movie once "not a musical you'll also get those results. I've not seen the film either, I read a lot of reviews and it screams "chick flick". I like good film but I have a problem with sentimentally -- oddly, its the artificiality of musicals that makes them tolerable even when they too can be very sentimental, such as "Band Wagon". Dude watching CID Charesse and Fred Astaire dance in the park makes me cry! Vincent Manelli is the sht. Watch "some came running" and tell me its not a masterpiece. (Its not a musical, but it might win your trust enough to watch his many great musicals.

S freud on Sep 12, 2013

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